Four year anniversary of death of son, family still pleading for help

Tomorrow is the FOUR Year Anniversary of the day Raymond Zachry was discovered, “unresponsive” by a neighbor. It has been a long road filled with brick walls, closed doors and barred windows of truth. However, recent developments may be a glimmer of sunlight shinning under those closed doors.  Let’s pray for guidance, truth for the authorities of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania that they will finally see the light and protect neighborhoods like Souderton and families from another incident like this.

Having broadly researched the medical symptoms named in the autopsy of Raymond Zachry and compared those to other case histories with similar autopsy indicators, there is a link to several victims with toxicology designating strange, out of the mainstream chemicals in the blood and tissue samples. In most cases, these chemicals were overlooked until family persisted and finally a medical examiner would re-examine the case just to satisfy the family members – that is when another analysis was discovered.

A true story, Poisoning Daddy, in the magazine Texas Monthly, written by Skip Hollandsworth; a story of an exceptional teenage honor student. A story that should have had a wonderful ending, then something went drastically wrong.

Hollandsworth describes Marie Robards, as a “tall, striking young girl referred to as “gorgeous” by her friends; she was in the top two – three percent of her class, according to her chemistry teacher”.

This sixteen year old gained notoriety, not for her intelligence or good grades, but for a scheme she devised to murder her father, Steven Robards. With a “spoonful of barium acetate” she took from the high school chemistry laboratory where she was a student. Marie Robards added it to carry out refried beans, then, gave it to her father for his dinner.

 Marie Robards visited a neighbor as her father became violently ill.  She later claimed she only intended to make her father sick, but showed little remorse when he died a horrible death, within hours of the meal.

In the monthly publication, circulated throughout Texas, Hollandsworth wrote:

“It is the kind of murder story that fascinates people because it is filled with such familiar, seemingly innocent characters; teenage girls coming of age in the suburbs, their lives driven by adolescent insecurities, daydreams, and startlingly mercurial moods. In February 1993 Marie Robards of Fort Worth, a 16 year-old, pulled off what a prosecutor called the perfect crime, murdering her 38-year-old father.”

The murder weapon was unusual and one that most medical examiners are unprepared to manage.  The autopsy was normal.  “The coroner attributed Robards’ death to a heart attack”.

Marie kept her secret for nearly a year, then one night while Marie Robards was studying with a friend, she could keep her horrible deed to herself no longer and told her friend that she had poisoned her father.

Her reason for the act; “It was the only way I could go back home,” Marie told the detective who questioned her.

Her mother and father were divorced.  She was unhappy that her mother sent her to live with her father because she could not get along with her new step-father.

The jury gave her a 28-year sentence.  She will be eligible for parole in seven years.

Guidelines for safe school chemistry laboratories

Public schools have available an alarming amount of hazardous chemicals in the chemistry laboratory that are to be kept in a locked room, according to CDC Safety and Health, NIOSH Department of Health & Human Services and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in their School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide.  But, who is watching over the inventory?

The publication lists 58 substances that have a greater hazard than educational value, among them (page 37 – CAS Number 7782-49-2) selenium that is identified as a severe irritant. The material safety data sheet (MSDS) for this substance identifies it “may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin”. Yet it is available for educational purpose to schools and home schoolers.

Appendix D, page 40: Substances With a Hazardous Nature, but may have Potential Educational Utility

Number 9 on this list is Barium chloride (CAS Number10361-37-2), is identified as “may be fatal if ingested, irritant”. The MSDS for barium indicates it has an adverse effect on the heart and muscles.CDC, CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES: Cautions that exposure causes profound hyperkalemia and potassium levels drop severely causing heart symptoms, the limbs might progress to paralysis of the limb and respiratory muscles. This particular chemical has requirements for reporting suspected, probable, or confirmed exposures to the CDC. Both selenium and barium have been documented in poison deaths.

Barium is listed among the chemicals that have reporting requirements if a probable, suspected or confirmed incident is known.  U.S. EPA  prepared a report Reportable Quantity for Barium in 1983 and CDC expanded upon reporting requirements in their CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES  for Barium in a 2005 publication and case definition.

None of the recommended precautions were taken in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania when Raymond Marc Zachry was found to have collapsed and died, then barium as well as selenium were found in his blood samples.  There is no confirmation that a chemical spill or release could have happened in Souderton September 25, 2007 that caused the death of Mr. Zachry. But under the guidelines someone should have contacted CDC and they should have made the decision if a larger investigation was warranted.  Rather, local Souderton Police Department decided the victim had a “heart attack” and within 90 minutes the “investigation” was over.

Note the upper right corner list

One can only assume the local emergency response personnel had little or no training in how to handle chemical emergencies, or was never contacted. No public news coverage warning local residents, no water sampling, no soil samples in the area for hazardous chemicals; how many residents must be affected to be considered an emergency?


31 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for visiting again. I was going to click “like” button and thee was my picture. I knew I’d read this before. Good to hear from you again, just wish you had better news.



  2. Posted by jericho777 on January 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Jericho777's Blog.



  3. […] Four year anniversary of death of son, family still pleading for help […]



    • thank you for the re-post. I do appreciate any opportunity to expose the injust to cases such as Raymond Zachry and the many others who are searching for answers to incompetence in the death investigation industry.



  4. So sorrowful to read this. No matter how long it’s been, hard to find words. My heart’s with you. Paulette



  5. An incredibly sad story. Have you thought of writing a book about it?



    • Yes, a friend is working on that. I just couldn’t put it on paper. On the web page dedicated to Ray ( there is a video by Ken Lang. He is a retired homicide detective and asked to do an interview. He also writes true crime stories and is working with me to publish Ray’s story.

      I have a petition on Causes to regulate coroners and medical examiners. As more information becomes available to me it appears there may have been a personal agenda on the part of the coroner who altered toxicology reports and redacted others.

      Thank you for your interest in Ray’s story. It is incredible that this could happen and the coroner refuses to allow an investigation.



  6. I’ve read before but didn’t read that Maria had been tried, found guilty and given such a light sentence and early parole. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Murder cases here in CT are certainly not fair. A drunk off-duty cop hit and killed a 15 year-old on a bicycle. Conveniently, the cop’s father was senior officer on duty, sheltered his son from all testing (including field sobriety). Young cop was fired and given 15 yrs. in prison with ridiculous parole after pleading no contest. Dad retired, trial not done 2 years later. Sickening, just like your cases.



    • There is little to no oversight of these departments of “justice” – until a panel is allowed access to records to do a review and audit it will continue. But, those panels can be bought and influenced also.
      Sad times in USA.



  7. Posted by arkansastruthseeker on June 5, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Reblogged this on Upside Down.



    • Thank you for re-blogging from Justice for Raymond. We are still working on the case, another pre-trial is promised June 20. How many can the court reschedule in a year?



  8. Posted by soccer betting tips on January 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    In three words…

    I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on….



    • I agree that life goes on, but when it is your son, you will fight through fire to get the truth. Thank you for your comment and visit to the site. Please do stop by again as new information is posted as it is available.



  9. […] This situation is not too different from the story of Raymond Marc Zachry who suddenly died in Montgomery County Pennsylvania.  The autopsy toxicology reports a huge amount […]



  10. Posted by Freddie Cahalan on January 3, 2012 at 5:59 am

    I conceive this internet site has got some really fantastic information for everyone.



  11. thanks, will check back often, have bookmarked you for now.



  12. GREAT REVIEW! I pretty much agree with all your thoughts you said in your article, especially at the end of your article. Thank you, your post is very valuable as always. Keep up the good work! You’ve got +1 more reader of your great blog:) Isabella S.



  13. […] In a recent post (September 24, 2011 Four Year Anniversary of death of son, family still pleading for help) reference was made to a handbook for school laboratories published by CDC; School Chemistry […]



  14. Sorry for such a late comment….I am so shocked I can barely find words — no safety precautions for poison in schools??? Really??!!?? How can a school board justify that? What if their spouse or child were poisoned by a person who had access to that very chemical? Would they rest?
    Somebody somewhere has answers that the family deserves to hear. I hope those people never sleep another full night as long as they are quiet.



    • Yes, it is shocking to see the publication listing many chemicals that are readily available in the chemistry department of most high schools and no reportable controls that were identified in the CDC document, only recommendations.



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